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Science Friction

Sonic Fictions

Workshop led by Helen Torres

Courses and workshops

How does power operate through sonic violence? In what way did colonial practices use sound as a tool for domination and control, from the barking of dogs to the mutilation of auditory organs? How do police and military forces use sound as an instrument for torture and repression?

What forms of violence are generated when language is lost, erased, prohibited? What do different speech practices and the ways in which voices distort silence imply? What would a space-time not affected by that violence be like? What sounds would a hypothetical anti-colonial sound archive include?

Based on these questions and others that will arise, during two sessions we will analyse a story by Octavia Butler, a sonic and visual collage by Elysia Crampton, and a short film by Lucrecia Martel. We will speculate on the voice, speech, music and sound as tools for struggle and decolonial resistance, amplifying listening as a matrix of fictions to delve into their transformative codes. In a third session, we will record a podcast based on the experience of the workshop.

The intention is to talk about the power of the sonic fictions that operate in dissent, that alter the modes of sensible representation and hegemonic forms of enunciation, in turn altering the frames, scales, rhythms, and building new apparitions between the real and the speculative, the singular and the common, the human and the non-human, the (in)visible, the (un)sayable, the (in)audible, the (un)recognisable, and their signification.


Previous materials

First session. Speech fabulations

  • Short story “Speech Sounds” by African-American writer Octavia Butler: a dystopian scenario in which a virus causes people to lose the ability of language, both spoken and written, and the world is transformed into a chaos of violence and destruction. More info
  • Short film Nueva Argirópolis, by Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, in which a soundtrack without subtitles composed of rumours, almost inaudible conversations, gestures and speech codes which are incomprehensible to border police presents a soundscape in which a group of indigenous activists plot their resistance. More info

Second session. Queer sonic fictions

  • Mini opera Dissolution of the Sovereign: A Time Slide Into the Future (Or: A Non-Abled Offender’s Exercise in Jurisprudence) (2016) by trans Aymara artist Elysia Crampton: a sound and visual collage set in a distant future that fables about the resurrection of Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara revolutionary who in the 18th century fought against the Spanish conquerors and was brutally murdered, and about her fusion with non-white trans cyborgs sheltered in an underground maze of abandoned U.S. prisons. More info


This workshop is part of the Fictions of Dis-order programme of Hangar, organised in collaboration with Biofriction (a European project led by Hangar) and the CCCB’s "Science Friction" exhibition.

Directors: Helen Torres

This activity is part of Science Friction

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